SEM Fundamentals: SEO vs PPC

SEM Fundamentals: SEO vs PPC

Ever since the introduction of Google to the internet, businesses have been competing for placement within its search results. While the search engine marketing (SEM) industry may have humble beginnings, it’s since grown into a multi-billion dollar behemoth — with the search engine optimization (SEO) industry alone worth more than 75 billion dollars.

Whether you’re in B2C, B2B, or are simply trying to start a side hustle – SEM is one of the quickest ways to increase your brand’s reach, develop leads and build traffic. But how do you get started? How does SEO factor into a brand’s SEM strategy?

Below we get into everything you need to know about SEM in 2020, including SEO, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and other popular growth/marketing methods. Determining the difference between SEO vs PPC is one of the main things that business owners struggle to wrap their heads around, and it’s what we’ll start this blog off with (in the following section).

Various Differences Between SEO and PPC

Many business owners, especially those new to digital marketing, make the mistake of conflating SEO with PPC. While both methods deal with search engines, they aren’t the same. SEO is all about optimizing your website’s web content for increased organic traffic via search engines (e.g. Google or Bing). 

PPC, on the other hand, is a specific type of advertising method where a business pays per click. An example of a PPC platform would be Google Ads, or one of the various social media PPC platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn).

SEO’s focus is on organic search engine traffic. PPC’s focus is on paid traffic. That’s the easiest way to describe the primary difference between the two digital marketing methods. 

There are countless differences between the two and to develop a truly effective digital marketing strategy, you should have a firm understanding of each method. In the following sections, we unpack the details of SEO and PPC strategies. 

SEO Strategy Development in 2020: Driving Organic Traffic

SEO has come a long way since its early days. Back in the early 2000s, all you needed to do to achieve a high ranking was include a lot of relevant keywords in your content. Nowadays, SEO involves a lot more processes and is generally far more advanced than any practitioner could have imagined back in 2000 (when SEO got its start). 

The basics will most likely always remain the same; make sure your content is unique, make sure it’s relevant, make sure it’s high quality. However, with so many technological developments happening around us, SEO is always changing. 

In 2020, and the decade to come, this means placing more emphasis on how emerging technologies will shape SEO. The main aspects changing how businesses approach their SEO strategies include the following:

  • Voice search
  • More emphasis on visual search
  • Videos and their relation to SEO
  • Search intent and how important it is to click-through rates (CTRs)
  • Contextual content
  • Evolving backlinking strategies

PPC Basics: Developing a Strategy and Employing Tactics

PPC advertising is a form of paid digital advertising that’s performed on search engines, websites, and social media platforms. The most popular platform that PPC is performed on is Google, along with whatever social platforms are currently popular (e.g. Instagram and Facebook in 2018-2020).

Just like SEO, PPC had relatively humble beginnings. No major brands were making PPC a focus in the early 2000s. That has drastically changed though, to the point where PPC is a multi-billion dollar business with a massive amount of competition.

Developing a PPC strategy comes down to knowing exactly what your business’s goals are. Do you want to increase sales? Brand awareness? Drive traffic? What is your business trying to achieve? These are all examples of the kind of questions that you need to be asking before writing out a PPC strategy. 

One major thing that PPC shares with SEO is that they both rely on keyword research. If you don’t know which keywords to target, both your PPC and SEO efforts won’t be nearly as effective (as if you did know exactly which type of keywords/search terms to target).

Ideally, businesses should be employing both methods. SEO is great for organic traffic. PPC can fill in the gaps with paid traffic. That’s when you start really seeing business results (i.e. when you start employing reciprocal strategies).

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